According to the annual financial outlook report by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, recent and much-needed improvements by the MTA may mean fare increases could come sooner than the ones that are already scheduled, Newsday reports. DiNapoli’s report pointed out that even if it gets the hoped-for additional government funding, recent improvement efforts that address subway performance could add up to $300 million annually, requiring an unscheduled fare and toll increase of about 4 percent. Currently, a 4 percent hike is planned for 2019, and another for 2021.
Recent investments in the subway system could force the agency to raise fares and tolls in order to maintain, modernize and expand the system. “In the absence of adequate funding, the system could fall into further disrepair and riders could face unplanned fare hikes,” DiNapoli said. “The state and city need to find solutions to prevent these possibilities from becoming reality, and the MTA must make the best use of its resources.”
MTA Chairman Joe Lhota, however, dismissed DiNapoli’s concerns as “fear mongering,” and promised that funding for subway fixes “will not come on the backs of riders.” “We are extremely encouraged by the growing support for congestion pricing [for driving into Manhattan] and we categorically reject the idea of any unplanned fare increases.” The report also noted that after a rocky start to 2017 (The number of delayed trains more than doubled, from 148 to 329, in the early months of the year), the LIRR has posted its three highest monthly on-time performance figures–above 93 percent in all cases–in July, August and September.
Beyond the five-cent fare that marked the opening of the subway system in 1904 and remained unchanged until 1948, fare hikes every few years have been a regular occurrence ever since–but many riders feel that service hasn’t improved much since then.
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